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Grief & the Elderly: Understanding Loss


My past work experience as a grief counselor working in hospice enabled me to help families and loved one's cope with aging, loss and grief. During our life span and adult aging we will experience lifestyle changes. These changes are specific to the aging process. As we age we experience biological and physical changes. Many of these changes are unique to the elderly and can be related to loss.


PHYSICAL LOSSES

  1. Changes in vision - common during aging. Decline of vision can affect or limit our daily living activities such as driving, reading, playing cards/sports.

  2. Changes in hearing - common during aging. Decline in hearing can impair or limit our activities causing a loss in social activities.

  3. Memory - aging can cause a decline in memory and recall.

  4. Chronic/Serious illness - health issues such as illness can be debilitating or limit our ability to function.

  5. Death.

SYMBOLIC LOSSES

  1. Symbolic losses initiate the grieving process.

  2. Moving - nursing home/assisted living placement. Leaving your home.

  3. Divorce.

  4. Loss of independence.

  5. Health issues.

  6. Loss of driving.

  7. Divorce.

  8. Loss of dreams.

  9. Dependence on medication.

  10. Loss of control.

Aging and the elderly present us with challenges. There are always helpful solutions. Recognizing loss based issues, awareness, empathy, compassion, and education are vital to understanding and working with grief, loss and the elderly.


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